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- THE SPIRIT AND FORM OF THE BAHA’I ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER
- HORACE HOLLEY.
- UU*! tUtL!a f it
- Article IV
BAHA’I ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER
“And now as I look into the future, I hope to see the friends at all times, in every land, and of every shade of thought
and character, voluntarily and joyously rallying round their local and in particular their national centers of activity,
upholding and promoting their interests with coin plete unanimity and contentment, with perfect understanding,
genuine enthusiasm, and sustained vigor. This indeed is the one joy and yearning of my life, for it is the fountain-head
from which all future blessings will flow, the broad foundation upon which the security of the Divine Edifice must
ultimately rest.”— SHOGHI EFFENDI.
1926-27 National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’is of the United States and Canada completed a task which,
while pertaining to the outer and more material aspects of the Cause, nevertheless has a special significance for its spirit
and inward sacred purpose. This task consisted in creating in a legal form which gives proper substance and substantial
character to the administrative processes embodied in the Bahá’i Teachings. The form adopted was that known as a
Voluntary Trust, a species of corporation recognized under the common law and possessing a long and interesting
history. The famous Covenant adopted by the Pilgrim Fathers on the Mayflower, the first legal document in American
history, is of the same nature as the Declaration of Trust voted by the National Spiritual Assembly. This Declaration of
Trust, with its attendant By-Laws, is published for the information of the Bahã’is of the world. Careful examination of
the Declaration and its By-Laws will reveal the fact that this document contains no arbitrary elements nor features new
to the Bahá’i Cause. On the contrary, it represents a most conscientious effort to reflect those very administrative
principles and elements already set forth in the letters of the Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, and already determining the
methods and relationships of Bahl’i collective association. The provision both in the Declaration and in the By-Laws for amendments
in the future will permit the National Spiritual Assembly to adapt this document to such new administrative elements or principles as
the Guardian may at any time give forth. The Declaration, in fact, is nothing more or less than a legal parallel of those moral and
spiritual laws of unity inherent in the fullness of the Bahá’i Revelation and making it the fulfillment of the ideal of Religion in the
social as well as spiritual realm. Because, in the Bahá’i Faith this perfect correspondence exists between spiritual and social laws, the
Bahã’is believe that administrative success is identical with moral success; and that nothing less than the true Bahá’i spirit of devotion
and sacrifice can inspire with effective power the world-wide body of unity, revealed by Bahá’u’lláh. Therefore it has seemed fitting
and proper to accompany the Declaration of Trust with excerpts from the letters of Shoghi Effendi which furnished the source whence
the provisions of the Declaration were drawn, and which furthermore give due emphasis to that essential spirit without which any and
every social or religious form is but a dead and soulless body.
THE BAHA’ WORLD
U*Ift tzts ‘f nu*a
to ijoii pretnt a1t ijn
the &cmw ennte nd
tz ttsnsj w1*r
qf SYa1e Aces A
uxoaoeedik Seal af
Depar1seen ef Sick Ic As xdceeJny se,ne soserlAed Ay the (ThkJ Clerkaf the said
DepdrIn2sI, al LAd
Disrict cf Glumbia
Certification of Declaration of Trust of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’is
of the United States and Canada.
THE WORLD ORDER OF BAHA’U’LLAH 33
UU*! tUtL!a f it
Revig tatdS, i
hi1ao on fi1 tn thin
WI NES W}1EREO I ba heuni se
Declaration of Trust and By-Laws of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’is of the United States
THE BAHA’I WORLD
DECLARATION OF TRUST
By the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’is of the United States and Canada
We, Allen B. McDaniel of Washington, D. C., Horace Holley of New York City, N. Y., Carl Scheffler of
Evanston, Ill., Roy C. Wilhelm of West Englewood, N.
Florence Morton of Worcester, Mass., Amelia
Collins of Princeton, Mass., Ali-Kuli Khan of New York City, N. Y., Mountfort Mills of New York City,
N. Y., and Siegfried Schopflocher of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, duly chosen by the representatives of the
Bahá’is of the United States and Canada at the Annual Meeting held at San Francisco, Calif., on April
to be the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’is of the United States
and Canada, with full power to establish a Trust as hereinafter set forth, hereby declare that from this date
the powers, responsibilities, rights, privileges and obligations reposed in said National Spiritual Assembly
of the Bahâ’is of the United States and Canada by Bahá’u’lláh, Founder of the Bahá’i Faith, by ‘Abdu’I-
Bahá, its Interpreter and Exemplar, and by Shoghi Effendi, its Guardian, shall be exercised, administered
and carried on by the above-named National Spiritual Assembly and their duly qualified successors under
this Declaration of Trust.
The National Spiritual Assembly in adopting this form of association, union and fellowship, and in
selecting for itself the designation of Trustees of the Bahá’js of the United States and Canada, does so as
the administrative body of a religious community which has had continuous existence and responsibility for
over, eighteen years. In consequence of these activities the National Spiritual Assembly is called upon to
administer such an ever-increasing diversity and volume of affairs and properties for the Bahá’is of the
United States and Canada, that we, its members, now feel it both desirable and necessary to give our
collective functions more definite legal form. This action is taken in complete unanimity and with full
recognition of the sacred relationship thereby created. We acknowledge in behalf of ourselves and our
successors in this Trust the exalted religious standard established by Bahã’u’lláh for Bahâ’i administrative
bodies in the
THE WORLD ORDER OF BAHA’U’LLAH 365
utterance: “Be ye Trustees of 11w Merciful One among men”; and seek the help of God and His guidance
in order to fulfil that exhortation.
The name of said Trust shall be the National Spiritual Assenthly of the Bahd’is of the United States and
Sharing the ideals and assisting the efforts of our fellow Bahâ’is to establish, uphold and promote the
spiritual, educational and humanitarian teachings of human brotherhood, radiant faith, exalted character and
selfless love revealed in the lives and utterances of all the Prophets and Messengers of God, Founders of
the world’s revealed religions—and given renewed creative energy and uniersal application to the
conditions of this age in the life and utterances of Bahá’u’llâh—we declare the purposes and objects of this
Trust to be to administer the affairs of the Cause of Bahâ’u’lláh for the benefit of the Bahã’is of the United
States and Canada according to the principles of Bahá’i affiliation and administration created and
established by Bahá’u’lláh, defined and explained by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and amplified and applied by Shoghi
Effendi and his duly constituted successor and successors under the provision of the Will and Testament of
These purposes are to be realized by means of devotional meetings; by public meetings and conferences of
an educational, humanitarian and spiritual character; by the publication of books, magazines and
newspapers; by the construction of temples of universal worship and of other institutions and edifices for
humanitarian service; by supervising, unifying, promoting and generally administering the activities of the
Bahâ’is of the United States and Canada in the fulfilment of thcir religious offices, duties and ideals; and by
any other means appropriate to these ends, or any of them.
Other purposes and objects of this Trust are:
a. The right to enter into, make, perform and carry out contracts of every sort and kind for the furtherance
of the objects of this Trust with any person, firm, association, corporation, private, public or municipal or
body politic, or any state, territory or colony thereof, or any foreign government; and in this connection,
and in all transactions under the terms of this
THE BAHA’I WORLD
Trust, to do any and all things which a co-partnership or
natural person could do or exercise, and which now or here afte may be authorized by law.
b. To hold and be named as beneficiary under any trust estab lishe by law or otherwise or under any will or
other testa mentar instrument in connection with any gift, devise, or
bequest in which a trust or trusts is or are established in any
part of the world as well as in the United States and Canada; to
receive gifts, devises or bequests of money or other property.
c. All and whatsoever the several purposes and objects set forth
in the written utterances of Bahá’u’llâh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and
Shoghi Effendi, under which certain jurisdiction, powers and
rights are granted to National Spiritual Assemblies.
d. Generally to do all things and acts which in the judgment of
said Trustees, i.e., the National Spiritual Assembly of the
Bahá’is of the United States and Canada, are necessary, proper
and advantageous to promote the complete and successful ad ministratio of this Trust.
Section z. All persons, firms, corporations and associations extending, credit to, contracting with or having
any claim against the Trustees, i.e., the National Spiritual Assembly, and the members thereof, of any
character whatsoever, whether legal or equitable and whether arising out of contract or tort, shall look
solely to the funds of the Trust and to the property of the Trust estate for payment or indemnity, or for the
payment of any debt, damage, judgment or decree or any money that may otherwise become due or payable
from the Trustees, so that neither the Trustees nor any of them, nor any of their officers or agents appointed
by them hereunder, nor any beneficiary or beneficiaries herein named shall be personally liable there for.
Every note, bond, proposal, obligation or contract in writing or other agreement or instrument
made or given under this Trust shall be explicitly executed by the National Spiritual Assembly, as Trustees
by their duly authorized officers or agents.
The Trustees, i.e., the National Spiritual Assembly, shall adopt for the conduct of the affairs entrusted to
them under this Declaration of
THE WORLD ORDER OF BAHA’U’LLAH 367
Trust, such by-laws, rules of procedure or regulations as are required to define and carry on its own’administrative
functions and those of the several local and other elements composing the body of the Bahá’is of the United States and
Canada, not inconsistent with the terms of this instrument and all in accordance with the explicit instructions given us
to date by Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh, which instructions are already known to the Bahá’is
of the United States and Canada and accepted by them in the government and practice of their religious affairs.
The central office of this Trust shall be located in the City of New York, State of New York, United States of America.
The seal of this Trust shall be circular in form, bearing the following description:
National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahâ’is of the United States and Canada. Declaration of Trust, 1927.
This Declaration of Trust may be amended by majority vote of the National Spiritual Assemb’y of the Bahá’is of the
United States and Canada at any special meeting duly called for that purpose, provided that at least thirty (30) days
prior to the date fixed for said meeting a copy of the proposed amendment or amendments is mailed to each member of
the Assembly by the Secretary.
Art. V amended to read
“. . .
located in the Village of Wilniette, Illinois, the site of the Bahf’i House of Worship.”
368 THE BAHA’i WORLD
BY-LAWS OF THE NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY
The National Spiritual Assembly, in the fulfilment of its sacred duties under this Trust, shall have exclusive jurisdiction
and authority over all the activities and affairs of the Bahá’i Cause throughout the United States and Canada, including
paramQunt authority in the administration of this Trust. It shall endeavor to stimulate, unify and coordinate the
manifold activities of the local Spiritual Assemblies (hereinafter defined) and of individual Bahfl’is in the United States
and Canada and by all possible means assist them to promote the oneness of mankind. It shall be charged with the
recognition of such local Assemblies, the scrutiny of local membership rolls, the calling of the Annual Meeting or
special meetings and the seating of delegates to the Annual Meeting and their apportionment among the various local
Bahfl’i communities. It shall appoint all national Bahá’i committees and shall supervise the publication and distribution
of Bahá’i literature; the reviewing of all writings pertaining to the Bahâ’i Cause, the construction and administration of
the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár and its accessory activities, and the collection and disbursement of all funds for the carrying on
of this Trust. It shall decide whether any matter lies within its own jurisdiction or within th jurisdiction of any local
Spiritual Assembly. It shall, in such cases as it considers suitable and necessary, entertain appeals from the decisions of
local Spiritual Assemblies and shall have the right of final decision in all cases where the qualification of an individual
or group for continued voting rights and membership in tl-ie Bahá’i body is in question. It shall furthermore represent
the Bahfl’is of the United States and Canada in all their cooperative and spiritual activities with the ]3ahá’is of other
lands, and shall constitute the sole electoral body of the United States and Canada in the formation of the Universal
House of Justice provided for in
Sacred Writings of the Bahá’i Cause. Above all, the National Spiritual Assembly
shall ever seek td attain that station of unity in devotion to the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh which will attract the
confirmations of the Holy Spirit and enable the Assembly to serve
founding of the Most Great Peace. In all its
deliberation and action
For amendments made to April
see notes at foot of pages
370, 373, 374, 375.
THE WORLD ORDER OF BAHA’U’LLAH
the National Assembly shall have constantly before it as Divine guide and standard the utterance of
“It behooveth them (i.e., Spiritual Assemblies) to b the trusted
ones of the Merciful among men and to consider themselves as the guardians appointed of God for all that
dwelt on earth. It is incumbent upon them to take counsel together and to have regard for the interests of the
servants of God, for His sake, even as they regard their own interests, and to choose that which is meet and
The Bahá’is of the United States and Canada, for whose benefit this Trust has heen established, shall
consist of all persons resident in the United States and Canada who are recognized by the National Spiritual
Assembly as having fulfilled the requirements of voting membership in a local Bahâ’i community. To
become a voting member of a Bahá’i community a person shall
a. Be a resident of the locality defined by the area of jurisdiction of the local Spiritual Assembly, as
provided by Article VII, Section
of this instrument.
b. Have attained the ages of
c. Have established to the satisfaction of the local Spiritual Assembly, subject to the approval of the
National Assembly, that he possesses the qualifications of Bahâ’i faith and practice required under the
following standard: Full recognition of the station of the Forerunner (the Báb), the Author (Bahâ’u’llãh),
and ‘Abdu’l-Bahã the True Exemplar of te Bahá’i Cause: unreserved acceptance of, and submission to,
whatsoever has been revealed by their Pen; loyal and steadfast adherence to every clause of Abdu’l-Bahâ’s
sacred Will; and close association with the spirit as well as the form of present-day Bahâ’i administration
throughout the world.
The National Assembly shall consist of nine members chosen from among the Bahá’is of the United States
and Canada, who shall be elected by the said Bahá’is in manner hereinafter provided, and who shall
continue in office for the period of one year, or until their successors shall be elected.
370 THE BAHA’f WORLD
The officers of the National Spiritual Assembly shall consist of a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer,
and such other officers as may be found necessary for the proper conduct of its affairs. The officers shall be elected by
a majority vote of the entire membership of the Assembly taken by secret ballot.
The first meeting of a newly-elected National Assembly shall be called by the member elected to membership by the
highest number of votes or, in case two or more members have received the same said highest number of votes, then by
the member selected by lot from among those members; and this member shall preside until the permanent Chairman
shall be chosen. All subsequent meetings shall be called by the Secretary of the Assembly at the request of the
Chairman or, in his absence or incapacity, of the Vice-Chairman, or of any three members of the Assembly; provided,
however, that the Annual Meeting of the Assembly shall be held at a time and place to be fixed by a majority vote of
the Assembly, as hereinafter provided.
Five members of the National Assembly present at a meeting shall constitute a quorum, and a majority vote of those
present and constituting a quorum shall be sufficient for the conduct of business, except as otherwise provided in these
By-Laws, and with due regard to the principle of unity and cordial fellowship involved in the institution of a Spiritual
Assembly. The transactions and decisions of the National Assembly shall be recorded at each meeting by the Secretary,
who shall supply copies of the minutes to the Assembly members after each meeting, and preserve the minutes in the
official records of the Assembly.
Whenever in any locality of the United States and Canada, be it city, town or village, the number of Bahâ’is resident
therein recognized by the National Spiritual Assemlily exceeds nine, these may on April 21st of any year convene and
elect by plurality vote a local administrative body of nine members, to be known as the Spiritual AsArticle IV,
amended to read
“. . .
by a majority vote of the Assembly taken by secret
THE WORLD ORDER OF BAHA’U’LLAH 371
sembly of the Bahá’is of that community. Every such Spiritual Assembly shall be elected annuaily thereafter upon each
successive 21st day of April. The members shall hold office for the term of one year and until their successors are
elected and qualified.
When, however, the number of Bahá’is in any community is exactly nine, these may on April 21st of any year, or in
successive years, constitute themselves the local Spiritual Assembly by joint declaration. Upon the recording of such
declaration by the Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly, said body of nine shall become established with the
rights, privileges and duties of a local Spiritual Assembly as set forth in this instrument.
Section i. Each newly-elected local Spiritual Assembly shall at once proceed in the manner indicated in Articles IV and
V of these By-Laws to the election of its officers, who shall consist of a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary and
Treasurer, and such other officers as the Assembly finds necessary for the conduct of its business and the fulfilment of
its spiritual duties. Immediately thereafter the Secretary chosen shall transmit to the Secretary of the National Assembly
the names of the members of the newly-elected Assembly and a list of its officers.
The general powers and duties of a local Spiritual Assemb y shall be as set forth in the writings of
Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’lBahá and Shoghi Effendi.
Section 3. Among its more specific duties, a local Spiritual Assembly shall have full jurisdiction of all Bahá’i activities
and affairs within the local community, subject, however, to the exclusive and paramount authority of the National
Spiritual Assembly as defined herein.
Section 4. Vacancies in the membership of a local Spiritual Assembly shall be filled by election at a special meeting of
the local Bahâ’i community duly called for that purpose by the Assembly. In the event that the number of vacancies
exceeds four, making a quorum of the local Assembly impossible, the election shall be held under the supervision of
the National Spiritual Assembly.
The business of the local Assembly shall be conducted in like manner as provided for the deliberations of the
National Assembly in Article VI above.
Section 6. The local Assembly shall pass upon and approve the qualifications of each member of the Bahá’i community
before such members shall be admitted to voting membership; but where an individual is dissatisfied with the ruling of
the local Spiritual Assembly
372 THE BAHA’f WORLD
upon his Bahfl’i qualifications, such individual may appeal from the ruling to the National Assembly, which shall
thereupon take jurisdiction of and finally decide the case.
On or before the 1st day of February of each year the Secretary of each local Assembly shall send to the
Secretary of the National Assembly a duly certified list of the voting members of the local Bahfl’i community for the
information and approval of the National Assembly.
Section 8. All matters arising within a local Bahá’i community which are of purely local interest and do not affect the
national interests of the Cause shall be under the primary jurisdiction of the Spiritual Assembly of that locality; but
decision whether a particular matter involves the interest and welfare of the national Bahfl’i body shall rest with the
National Spiritual Assembly.
Section 9. Any member of a local Bahfl’i community may appeal from a decision of his Spiritual Assembly to the
National Assembly, which shall determine whether it shall take jurisdiction of the matter or leave it to the local
Spiritual Assembly for reconsideration. In the event that the National Assembly assumes jurisdiction of the matter, its
finding shall be final.
Section 10. Where any dissension exists within a local Bah.â’i community of such a character that it cannot be
remedied by the efforts of the local Spiritual Assembly, this condition shall be referred by the Spiritual Assembly for
consideration to the National Spiritual Assembly, whose action in the matter shall be final.
Section ix. All questions arising between two or more local Spiritual Assemblies, or between members of different
Bahâ’i communities, shall be submitted in the first instance to the National Assembly, which shall have original and
final jurisdiction in all such matters.
Section 12. The sphere of jurisdiction of a local Spiritual Assembly, with respect to residential qualification of
membership, and voting tights of a believer in any Bahfl’i community, shall be the locality included within the dvil
limits of the city, town or village, but Bahfl’is who reside in adjacent, outlying or suburban districts and can regularly
attend the meetings of the local Bahfl’i community, may be enrolled on the membership list of the adjacent Spiritual
Assembly and enjoy full voting rights pending the establishment of a local Spiritual Assembly in their home
All differences of opinion concerning the sphere of jurisdiction of any local Spiritual Assembly or concerning the
affiliation of any Bahã’i
THE WORLD ORDER OF BAHA’U’LLAH 373
or group of Bahá’is in the United States and Canada shall be referred to the National Spiritual Assembly, whose
decision in the matter shall be final.
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